-excessive training and inadequate diet and rest will ultimately lead to overtraining
-fatigue, lack of motivation, increased resting heart rate, muscle soreness and decreased immunity are the most common signs of overtraining
-the only solution is rest for a prolonged period of time plus change in one’s lifestyle
One would think that after so many articles written on this topic, overtraining should not be an issue.
Well, unfortunately it is an acute issue concerning some 50% of all athletes – and maybe even more because the known numbers are from organized and professional sports.
So what is the typical evolution of overtraining in fitness and bodybuilding?
-you start going to the gym
-you are adding more exercises to improve this or that muscle group
-you are not satisfied with your results so you are adding even more sets
-by now, you also feel that the gym is your home; you don’t look for a shorter training as you actually wish to spend your time here
-you are obviously not a pro so you get a fair deal of stress in your life and not more than 7 hours of sleep
-you start to be more and more tired, your progress is slow or nonexistent; you are nervous and irritable; you start catching cold easily and you feel generally weak
-you start living in denial: your subconscious tell you to stop training and take a rest but you fight this idea; it is frightening to admit that so much energy spent in the gym (and so much money spent on supplements) would be in vain
Is this pattern familiar to you? Most of us got more or less close to the situation where we had to hold our ambitions and zeal back.
The sooner you spot the tendency for overtraining the better for you. If you really do overtrain – and this is a term that should be only reserved for long-term energy depletion lasting months – you will need a long time to recover. Long time means you may need about 2 months with very little physical activity, lot of sleep and proper diet. Without this break you will be unable to improve your athletic performance and you will be sliding deeper and deeper into dangerous exhaustion.
Ideally, you will not let the things go so far and you will start to treat your overtraining while still in the phase of temporary overtraining, also called overreaching.
Overreaching is just the first phase and fortunately it only requires between 2 days and 2 weeks recovery time.
It is very important to realize that the threshold of overtraining is highly individual. Some athletes have the ability to recover from hard training much faster than others. We have to respect our genetic set-up and find our limits. Sure – those limits can be stretched significantly by proper lifestyle and clever supplementation but we cannot just follow the example of others who just might be lucky enough to endure more stress with little side-effects.
Common signs of overtraining:
-feeling of thirst, dehydration
-muscle and joint-pain
-muscle soreness, especially leg soreness
-increased resting heart rate
-lack of motivation
Most common causes of overtraining and the proper solutions:
Cause: lack of sleep
Solution: at least 8-hours of good sleep daily, possibly more on your resting days
Cause: tryptophan build-up in the brain causing CNS fatigue
Solution: BCAA supplementation, certain branch-chained amino-acids will prevent tryptophan reaching the brain
Cause: inadequate blood glucose levels
Solution: quickly available sources of glucose are necessary before, during and after the training, 80 grams of glucose per one hour of training are a generally accepted paradigm
Cause: depletion of muscle glycogen
Solution: glycogen is a fuel of your muscles, it is depleted relatively fast and without proper supplementation, muscle fatigue and catabolic effects take place; glutamine supplementation (5-10 g per training session) is the proper treatment (with lack of glutamine liver will not be able to synthesize glycogen)
Cause: during heavy exercise, plasma glutamine levels decline leading to decline of immunity
Solution: here again glutamine supplementation helps – 5 to 10 g after workout
Cause: no rest between training periods/cycles
Solution: take a week off every 2-3 months